I like banking with the Co-op, it’s easy and my account doesn’t cost anything (my banking needs are very simple). And I’m a big fan of their ethical and eco-friendly ethos since I’m a bit of an eco-worrier (although it took me 4 attempts to get them to stop sending me paper statements).
However, this opinion was dented somewhat when I wanted to look at some statements going back into Spring and Summer of last year.
I logged into my online-banking account, selected the account I’m interested in, and then selected the statement I wanted to look at. At which point I was confronted with a message telling me that this statement was no longer available and that I’d have to request a copy for which there was a charge (£5 each it turns out).
So, I thought, I’ll phone customer services since I resent having to pay a fiver for paper that I don’t want, for information that would be easy and virtually free for the bank to put back onto my online account.
The chap on the phone was very polite and, very politely, told me that the bank’s policy is to not keep statement data longer than a year and that this was in the T&C’s of the account. OK, got that, but why did nobody make this clear to me when I asked for no paper statements?. I tried to point out that charging for sending paper statements flies in the face of the public impression that we have of a bank that promotes itself as a green and ethical organisation.
When I asked if there was anyone there who would be able to assist me with getting this information I was put on hold (assumably while he chuckled about with a mate and took a large gulp of cola). When he came back he said those classic words that we all like to hear from a customer services person: “I’m sorry sir, this is the bank’s policy and it’s in your terms and conditions which you should have read”.
So, what have I learned?
- The Co-operative bank is a still a bank and behaves much like the rest of the banks when charges are involved. As such it’s a mistake to assume that they’re going be reasonable about reasonable requests
- I’m going to have to pay £35 for information that the bank holds for free, simply because they won’t budge on the one year information policy and because I didn’t read the small print for online banking (but who, in their right mind, does anyway?)
- They are going to send me paper, which I don’t really want and which isn’t terribly eco-friendly
- I’m going to have to either keep the paper they send or scan it (and then destroy the paper because I’m not recycling bank statements)
But, despite all of this, I still like the Co-op Bank.
And I won’t change my account because I’m loathed to pay any of the other wunch of bankers for the simple facilities that I use. I’m just less than impressed by Co-op’s policy for online banking and their inflexibility with getting information out of my account.